24/06/2024 10:14 PM

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The Health Maniacs

Is Pupil Size a Marker of Intelligence?

4 min read

It's in your eyes: pupil size a marker of intelligence | New Zealand  Geographic

“The eyes are the window to the soul,” as the saying goes, to convey the idea that you can know a lot about someone simply by looking them in the eyes. Nevertheless, the pupillary evaluation shows that a more appropriate translation of the saying would be “The eyes are the windows to wisdom.”


Since the seventeenth century, people have believed that one’s intellect is reflected in one’s physical appearance, and this belief continues today. Back then, people believed that bumps and dents in the skull revealed one’s preferences, abilities, and overall intellect. Today, we know better. While this notion has been disproved for a long time, the fundamental notion that intellect and attractiveness are associated has not. Many years later, numerous researchers continue to investigate intelligence in the context of a relatively tiny appearance-related trait — they measure pupil size.

What are pupils?

Pupils are the very tiny black dots in the center of the eye. Their purpose is to let light enter the eye and concentrate it on the retina (the nerve cells almost in the rear of the eye), allowing you to see. Each pupil is controlled by muscles found in your iris (the colored area of your eye).


While the size of your two pupils will generally be around the same, the size of your pupils as a whole might vary. Light (or the absence of it), certain drugs and diseases, and even how cognitively stimulating or demanding something may cause your pupils to dilate or dilate.


Several variables may impact pupillary distance, and not all of them have anything to do with light and distance, as previously stated. Some of these additional considerations are as follows: your health, medications, and substances, and your feelings.

Pupil size and intelligence

For example, a 2010 study carefully analyzed the association between pupillary light reflex and intellect and discovered, to the researchers’ surprise, that clever individuals had bigger pupil sizes than dumb ones. Intelligent individuals, according to the authors, have more cognitive resources (i.e., methods to cope with cognitive demands) than stupid ones, which may explain why they outperform their dumb counterparts. Intelligence allows individuals to employ more resources throughout a job than their less-intelligent counterparts since clever people have more available resources. Pupil evaluation or PD measurement then indicates how much of these cognitive resources are being utilized: the greater the usage of cognitive resources, the greater the dilation of the pupils. Therefore, bright individuals have bigger pupil sizes during activities than dumb ones since they have more resources and effectively utilize them.


In contrast, previous research came to the opposite conclusion: clever individuals had smaller pupil sizes, but dumb people had bigger ones, as previously stated. The belief was that dumb people had more resources than intelligent people because intelligent people were more efficient in using those resources. As a result, clever individuals, according to them, need fewer resources, and their pupils reflect this: their pupils dilate less than the pupils of dumb people, who require more resources.


Even though the two studies seem to be at odds, they support the same conclusion: pupil diameter measurement reflects how much resources are employed. However, the debate remains as to whether intelligence leads to increased or decreased resource use.


According to Hayes and Petrov, it might depend on the environment, which further confuses the link between intelligence and pupil size already complicated. Intelligent individuals may be pushed into an exploitative, fast-paced mode by simple activities, but stupid people may be forced into an explorative, slow-paced mode by the same tasks. It has been discovered that bright individuals have smaller pupils than dumb people because of this fast-paced manner, which explains why they have smaller pupils. On the other hand, when faced with challenging tasks, the reverse trend emerges: bright individuals now use the slow-paced mode, while dumb ones no longer do. According to the early research findings, highly clever persons have a big pupil size, whereas those who are less intellectual have a smaller pupil size. Interestingly, this method has received much support in the literature. It explains why clever individuals are reported to have smaller and bigger pupil sizes compared to their dumb counterparts.


As a result, the link between intellect and pupil size is complicated, and it seems to vary depending on the circumstances. You may detect whether you are in a difficult situation by looking individuals in the eyes; if you see that everyone has huge pupils, you know that you are in the company of extremely bright people. But if you notice this while seeing someone in the eyes when they are drinking coffee, likely, intellect is not a strong suit of that person’s personal qualities.

Testing Pupil Size

Anisocoria is a problem in which the pupils are not the same size. When your healthcare practitioner checks your pupils, they will search for this first.


Approximately 20% of the general population has a mild anisocoria, which does not indicate anything strange. In other circumstances, however, uneven pupil sizes might indicate a medical condition.


Besides the size and form of your pupils in both bright and dim light, your healthcare expert will examine them as well.


In addition, your healthcare experts will take notice of the quality and quickness with which your pupils react to bright and dim light. They may also assess your students’ reactions to items close by, such as tiny print. Any disparities between your students will also be recognized and recorded.


At NeurOptics, we are dedicated to helping you have healthy and functional eyes through Pupil measurement. Therefore, reach out to us today to know how to help you.

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